Mudiay commitment a sign of bigger things to come in SMU hoops
AUG 28, 2013 12:08a ET
SMU coach Larry Brown snagged a huge commitment Saturday when Emmanuel Mudiay, rated by some as the nation's top point guard prospect, pledged his services to the Mustangs.
Mudiay's commitment came as a shock to most. Kentucky fans had the most consternation, as they considered it unthinkable that a player world turn down Big Blue for SM-Who?
Most of the basketball world may not have heard of SMU, but they've definitely heard of Brown. He's a basketball coaching legend who has guided teams to both NCAA and NBA titles.
While outsiders may underestimate SMU's potential, you better not fall asleep on Brown, who is making 72 look like the new 40.
Mudiay's commitment is the biggest step in rebuilding SMU's program, but it's hardly the first one since Brown was hired last year.
Brown signed another local product, guard Keith Frazier, who became SMU's first McDonald's All-American since former NBA great Larry Johnson initially inked with the Mustangs.
Frazier will be a freshman this fall along with junior college big man Yanick Moreira and Illinois State transfer Nick Moore. That trio should lead a revamped SMU squad that went just 5-11 last season in Conference USA while Brown was renovating the roster.
Speaking of renovations, SMU will re-open historic Moody Coliseum -- Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Dylan both played there – after a $47 million makeover. The first game is set for Jan. 4 against UConn.
That game will be SMU's first home contest in its new league, the American Athletic Conference which, at least this season, will feature the likes of Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis and Temple.
Moving into one of the country's better basketball leagues also means increased television exposure for SMU, which should pay dividends in recruiting.
The Mudiay commitment is also expected to lead to more success in recruiting. Five-star center Myles Turner, another Dallas-Fort Worth product at Euless Trinity, is reportedly reconsidering SMU after seeing Mudiay's decision.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has long been a hotbed for college basketball recruiting, but until Brown arrived most of the top names chose to play elsewhere.
If SMU can keep Brown from wandering off – he's known for being a vagabond – the makings of a perennial March Madness contender are there at SMU.
It's never been hard to recruit to a warm-weather, big city like Dallas. It's just that until now, the other pieces had been missing: a power conference, a respected coach and an updated arena. That's all there now, plus an NBA-level practice facility, the Crum Basketball Center, was already in place when Brown arrived.
SMU's basketball stock is on a sharp rise just as the Dallas Mavericks are struggling to make the most of Dirk Nowitzki's final years. SMU is no threat to master showman Mark Cuban, who will always be able to sell the experience at American Airlines Center, but Dallas sports fans are known for jumping on the hot thing.
And right now, things are really starting to warm up for SMU basketball.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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